John Greenleaf Whittier was a Fireside poet, American Quaker, and abolitionist. His poetic work mainly focuses on religion and the picturesque region of Essex County, Massachusetts. In the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Collection, part of Loyola’s Special Collections and Archives, there is a rather interesting copy of Whittier’s collected works. The collection, which focuses on finely bound and illustrated books, contains a number of works that have the same special features as this example.
Portrait of Whittier, from The Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier
Upon looking at the book, you can first notice the beautiful gilded cover and binding, as well as the marbled endpapers.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the binding, however, is what is called “fore-edge painting.” Notice the gilded edges of the book:
Now, when the book is opened so that the pages can stretch, we can see a picture previously hidden by the gilding!
Whittier’s Home in Amesbury, MA; fore-edge painting from The Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier.
Whittier’s Home, 86 Friend Street, Amesbury, MA. Photograph from Wikipedia.
More examples of this technique can be found in many of the books in the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Collection, or online here: http://twistedsifter.com/2013/09/hidden-artworks-on-the-edges-of-books/
Whittier’s poem “Our River” is about the Merrimac River that flows through his hometown of Amesbury, MA. This poem, along with all of Whittier’s other published work, can be found in The Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier as part of the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Collection in Special Collections and Archives, 3rd Floor, Monroe Library.
“Our River” by John Greenleaf Whittier, from The Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier.
For more information about Whittier, visit the Whittier Museum’s page here: http://whittierhome.org/
This book, and others like it, can be viewed in Special Collections & Archives.
Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.